Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What do you do?

I hate being asked that question--or rather, I hate answering it. I always hesitate before answering, and I always trip on the answer. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what I do. I love being in business for myself. But I struggle every time somebody asks me what I do.

It should be a simple question to answer--I'm a freelance writer and editor. But that answer always spawns more questions, or a quizzical look on the face of the person I'm talking to. Inevitably, that nice little 6-word answer becomes a lot more complicated. Often, I have to explain what I don't do: I'm not a journalist, I don't write for magazines, and they've likely not seen anything I've written. Next, I have to explain who my clients are: I write for businesses, and for ad agencies. And what kinds of things do I write and edit? I write brochures, ad copy, PowerPoints, proposals, posters, flyers, web copy, and pretty much anything else people are willing to pay me to write. Same goes for editing. Do I have an office? I work from home or from my clients' offices, whichever is more suited to the project.

Usually their attention has waned by that point, and they leave me alone to contemplate how I can better answer the question next time I get asked.

What do you think--is there a better way?


Small Footprints said...

Good question ... and if anyone has a great answer ... I'd love to hear it.

I have found that most people don't understand someone working at home ... they can't quite make sense of it. They'll ask questions and then that glazed look comes over their face and I see the "Does Not Compute" sign flashing. For most people ... working at home must mean it's only a hobby or the person is retired. And isn't it funny because ... most people say that working at home would be wonderful. :)

Take Care!

Small Footprints

Angie Ledbetter said...

How 'bout, "I'm a business writer. I take regular folks' writing and make it better." :) Either that, or tell them you're a waitress. LOL

Melissa Marsh said...

I say be brave and tell them, "I'm a successful freelance writer. I get to set my own hours, wear what I want most of the time, and get paid for it. What could be better?" :-)

Lori said...

I hate this one, too. Because I write risk management and insurance stuff, I get the deer-in-headlights stare every time I follow up the "Wow! What do you write?" question.

Depending on the person or the crowd, I'll pick something "sexy" I've done just to keep them from looking for the exits. LOL

kells said...

Every so often I will say in response to that question "Professionally I am a (blank) but I can also talk about other things I do in my free time! What do you like to do outside of work?"

All too often people are summed up (or judged) according to what they do professionally. I became tired of it when I was waiting tables. My purpose was to take home cold hard cash at the end of the night. People would often say to me "That's ok!" when I told them what I did for a living as if they were letting me know that they still accepted my servile presence. How funny. As If I were asking for permission to begin with.

Cesia said...

I own my own business writing marketing material for businesses and ad agencies. Its really just a cover for my real job, though, which is an international intelligence agent ... what you might call a spy. Pretend like I didn't tell you that, though, otherwise I might have to eliminate you.

- Cesia.